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Dietary supplements and nutraceuticals in the management of endocrine disorders

Tamler, Ronald; Mechanick, Jeffrey I

Current Opinion in Endocrinology and Diabetes: October 2006 - Volume 13 - Issue 5 - p 425–430
doi: 10.1097/
Obesity and nutrition

Purpose of review The use of dietary supplements or nutraceuticals in clinical endocrinology has been growing steadily despite controversy regarding the appropriateness of such therapies. This review provides an evidence-based survey of some popular dietary supplements or nutraceuticals targeting a variety of endocrine disorders.

Recent findings The use of thyroid extracts or other natural remedies for thyroid disease is not evidence-based and is not superior to synthetic preparations. Insufficient data support the use of dehydroepiandrosterone or ginkgo biloba for hormonal disorders. Black cohosh and isoflavones may alleviate menopausal symptoms. Weak clinical data support the well tolerated use of several dietary supplements or nutraceuticals in diabetology, including a variety of botanicals and chromium. Carnitine and α-lipoic acid may alleviate diabetic neuropathy. Vitamin E is not a cardiovascular protectant. N-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids improve certain dyslipidemias. Data regarding conjugated linoleic acid and obesity are inconclusive. Isoflavones and vitamin K1 are promising but still unproven agents in osteoporosis, whereas the use of calcium and vitamin D alone has recently been challenged.

Summary Patients and physicans must evaluate dietary supplements or nutraceuticals in terms of the – qualitatively variable – supporting clinical evidence and relative risk–benefit profiles. Otherwise, the use of unproven therapies can be dangerous.

Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Bone Disease, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, New York, USA

Correspondence to Ronald Tamler, MD, PhD, MBA, Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Bone Disease, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, 1 Gustave L. Levy Place, Box 1055, New York, NY 10029, USA Tel: +1 212 241 1500; e-mail:

© 2006 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.